12 ways to build your self-esteem (without seeking validation from others)

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Let’s be honest: Many of us need validation. It feels great to be liked, accepted and appreciated.

But when you constantly look for praise, approval, and reassurance from others, this toxic pattern brings more regret than rewards. And the worst part? You’ll lose faith in yourself.

Remember this: You don’t have to live life on other people’s terms. At the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is your own. 

Here are some simple yet powerful ways to build your self-esteem without seeking validation from others. 

Find out how you can turn your self-doubt into self-belief and feel awesome about yourself — no matter what other people think. 

1) Trust your intuition

Our intuition is always talking to us. But we often fail to listen to it because we’re so busy craving approval from other people.

Think of intuition as a muscle that you need to exercise daily so you can strengthen it.

In any given situation, ask yourself: What do I feel is right for me? What do I desire? What is my body telling me?

When you realize the power that your intuition has, you’ll start to honor your own truth above the opinions others might have.

Reconnecting with your intuition helps you grow your confidence from the inside out.

2) Practice self-compassion

It’s not always easy to be kinder to ourselves, but if we don’t do it, it may increase our stress and even lead to depression.

Self-compassion starts with recognizing that you’re human. There will be many moments in your life when you won’t have it all figured out, and that’s okay.

Consider this: If a family member or friend was feeling low and anxious, would you be the first one to comfort them?

Now imagine that the person who needed support was you, would you do the same?

Make it a habit to treat yourself with the same level of kindness as you would treat others. It will help you feel more confident.

3) Challenge your inner critic

Repeat after me: What you say to yourself MATTERS.

Are you using the power of your words to tear yourself down or build yourself up?

More often than not, we beat ourselves up for being not attractive enough, not smart enough, or not good enough.

The good news is, it’s never too late to change your narrative. You can fight that tiny little voice that points out your shortcomings.

When things aren’t going well and you’re starting to have negative thoughts, try to make them more compassionate and loving. Think and speak words that spark life in you

Instead of emphasizing, “I will never be good enough,” focus on “I am doing my best. It is more than enough.” See the difference?

4) Have an attitude of gratitude

New York Times best-selling author Lewis Howes said it best, “If you concentrate on what you have, you’ll always have more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.”

From improving our physical and mental health to increasing feelings of self-esteem and resilience, there are a host of many reasons why you should make gratitude a daily practice

It’s not about denying or ignoring life’s negative aspects. It’s more about choosing to appreciate what’s good around you and taking control of your happiness and satisfaction. 

If you’re not used to being grateful, try these two simple steps:

  • Every day, write something positive about you or something that went well for you 
  • Say “thank you” to someone who made your day a little easier

5) Focus on your strengths and values

Accentuating the positives — the skills, talents, and all the unique things about you that are beautiful and powerful — helps you gain a sense of accomplishment.

Simply put: Focusing your energy on the things you’re good at and finding ways to do them in your everyday life enhances your self-worth.

Seek opportunities by identifying your strengths, concentrating on them, and recognizing the value they bring to your life and those of others.

Similarly, it also helps to be clear about your core values. Doing so will help you make decisions and actions that boost your well-being. 

6) Develop a growth mindset

Here’s the deal: No great success was ever achieved without failure. 

Think about this for a minute: How many times did you settle for less or stopped yourself from doing something because you were afraid of what others would think if you failed?

Whether we like it or not, struggles and failures are inevitable

Yes, they can be very disappointing and hurtful. But they always make you stronger.

When you start seeing every failure as a learning opportunity rather than defeat, you can be unstoppable. 

Allow yourself to learn from mistakes, and you’ll bounce back stronger than ever. 

7) Celebrate small milestones

When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back for those tiny victories?

Any accomplishment, no matter how small, is a significant part of the journey.

Sure, it’s great to look forward to achieving our larger goals. But we should never forget that it’s often the simplest, smallest progress and changes that can make the biggest difference to our happiness and self-worth.

So, celebrate those small wins, even if it’s just making it through another week. This humble practice of appreciating the little progress will boost your self-confidence. 

8) Pursue activities that bring you joy

Picture yourself feeling truly alive and joyful. What are you doing? Who are you with? Were you creatively expressing yourself? What makes the experience a fulfilling one?

One way to tap into your strengths and improve your self-esteem is by engaging in things that you’re very passionate about.

Whether it’s writing, gardening, hiking, painting, singing, dancing, and more, do things that feel enjoyable. It will give you a renewed sense of purpose. 

9) Help others

Speaking of things that bring you joy, how about going out of your way to be kind?

Evidence shows that helping others — sharing your time, money, energy, or skills — doesn’t only make the world better, but also makes YOU better.

Sometimes, knowing that you’re making a difference heightens your feelings of self-worth.

Again, you don’t need to get validation from others when you lend a helping hand (but I’m sure most people will reward your kindness with a simple “thank you.”)

And it doesn’t have to be a big act of service. All the little things — like helping the elderly, holding a door for someone, or simply encouraging a friend — all add up. 

10) Surround yourself with positive energy

Many studies have also shown how a strong and supportive social circle provides a positive feedback loop that is crucial to building self-esteem.

In other words, spending time with positive people is a great way to build your self-confidence.

These are the people who will uplift you, make you feel great, and see your potential — even when you might not see it in yourself.

Remember, the people we allow into our circle can greatly influence our thoughts and behavior. Choose to surround yourself with individuals who inspire you and help you achieve your dream. 

11) Take care of yourself

Here’s a simple truth: You won’t feel great about yourself if you’re not healthy.

Putting yourself first means you make your health and well-being a priority every day.

From eating on time and eating healthily to getting enough sleep, exercising, and more — all of these habits can give you the energy you need to face another day.

Another important aspect of self-care you shouldn’t forget? Rest. Don’t hesitate to relax and take time for yourself. You’ll perform better and accomplish more when you feel less stressed. 

12) Love yourself

Self-love is a strong foundation of self-esteem. It’s about learning that you’re imperfect and that life’s imperfect, and that’s okay. 

When you let go of perfectionism and accept yourself for who you are — flaws and all, you can be your authentic self. 

You’ll trust yourself more and believe in your ability to evolve and live the life you want

Maria Fatima Reyes

Fat Niebres is a freelance writer who loves to chase stories that matter. She finds meaning and inspiration in the mundane. When she's not writing, she's probably reading, eating, traveling, or having deep conversations with her husband. She brings her experience in broadcast, print, and NGO communications, and has been published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Inquirer.net.

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